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CONCERT DATE: March 22, 1976 (8:30 pm). St. Louis, MO

Elvis At Kiel, Still A Crowd Teaser
by Harper Barnes
St. Louis Post Dispatch
March 23, 1976


In the movie "2001," heroic strains of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" signal the presence of Godlike Beings from Outer Space. Last night at Kiel Auditorium, the same music signaled the entrance of Elvis Presley from Tupelo, Miss.

A packed house of about 10,500 was on hand to hear Presley, resplendent in spangled black pants, a black vest with a lot of cleavage and a ruffled blue shirt, do a 50 minute set.

Presley, like Frank Sinatra, has passed the point of being a mere performer and has entered the realm of an institution. If most of the time he was content to sing his old hits without much conviction and let the band and backup singers carry the load, he would from time to time burst forth with enough power and general jiggling to set the crowd to shrieking.

After the introductory space music had died down and Presley had pranced around the stage like a bullfighter, he launched into "C.C. Rider," a classic uptempo blues. Hundreds of flash bulbs went off in the audience and the lights rippled like strobes through the auditorium

He followed with the Ray Charles hit, "I Got A Woman," as his brilliant veteran guitarist James Burton played rapid whining runs behind him. He rode a drum roll into "Amen, Amen" and slid back into "I Got A Woman." He said, a little blurry, "I hope we have a good time this afternoon."

Presley snapped into "Please Please Love Me" and discarded his baby-blue scarf in the direction of the audience. Backup singer Charlie Hodge quickly provided another - and another, and another, as Presley teased the crowd like a good stripper with an inexhaustible supply of long white gloves.

Several hundred fans, mostly women - the audience was at least two-thirds female - pressed against the apron of the stage. A woman in a blue pantsuit with long blond hair ran plumply from the wings and embraced Presley, pressing his arms to his side. For a moment he looked a little scared. She was hustled off stage immediately and as the crowd pressed forward Presley said, "Mercy, folks"

After that it was "Don't Be Cruel," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Love Me Tender," "Polk Salad Annie," "Hound Dog" all done very quickly. Presley, at 41 years old, goes through his old songs almost by rote, but he still has that remarkable charisma that made him famous in the first place.

"I'll still be coming to see him when he's 80 years old," said Jean Rohrbach, who was barely a teen-ager when Presley got his start and was at the concert with her mother, also a fan.

With a flurry of scarves tossed to the audience, Presley closed the show with "Can't Help Falling in Love With You." There was a crush to the stage and then, as he left the stage followed by at least five bodyguards, a crush in the exits.

Jenny Schumacher of St. Ann learned Presley was staying at the Bel Air Hilton hotel and she and a friend were going to try to catch up with him there. Miss Schumacher had won her ticket on a radio contest. To win, she had to sing a Presley song and she chose "Hound Dog." She was a little disappointed in the lack of fire in Presley's performance of the song, but loved the concert anyway.

Generally, the audience was as mixed in age as any that has ever attended a rock concert at Kiel. It was the sort of crowd one might expect to see at an Alice Cooper-Lawrence Welk concert.

Mrs. Gladys Luepcke, a 68-year-old grandmother, was there with her daughter Janet, who spotted Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show more than 20 years ago and grabbed her mother to come in the listen.

"Elvis is for all ages," said Mrs. Luepke, who stood in line for three hours the morning the Presley tickets went on sale to make sure she got some.

Like most fans, Janet and Gladys Luepke never got close enough to the stage to get one of the several dozen scarves that Presley threw into the audience. But that was no problem. After the concert, the scarves were on sale in the lobby of Kiel for $5 apiece.

Courtesy of Fred and Sharron Martinez